CNLP 076: Raising the Dead: An Interview with Brian Wangler on How He Found New Life and Ushered in Growth in Four Stuck or Dying Churches

Is there hope for dying or stuck churches? Yes, there is.

Brian Wangler has led four stuck or dying churches into dramatic growth. One church grew from 5 to 100 in a village of 400. He led another church to over 1000 in attendance.

Here’s how it happened.

Welcome to Episode 76 of the podcast.



Guest Links: Brian Wangler


Before You Quit

Chicago’s First Church of Nazarene

Pastors on Purpose (POPS)

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Leading Change Without Losing It by Carey Nieuwhof

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

John Stickl; Episode 29

David Kinnaman; Episode 24

Dr. Dan Boone

Bill Hybels

Rick Warren

Andy Stanley

Reggie Joiner

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

They say it’s easier to give birth than raise the dead, but Brian gives church leaders hope, encouragement and confidence that churches on their last limb are still full of potential and have room to grow.

  1. Look for life in churches, leaders and your surroundings. Don’t zero in on attendance numbers; they can put limitations on your overall outlook. Look at your potential to reach. Where do you see life? Bring it out within your church, within leaders and within the area you’re serving. When you get your chance to put your arm around someone, especially those trying to find themselves in ministry, you’ll see there are things the Lord will do that you can’t do yourself. You’ll find someone who has that fire and that light, and encouragement from you can be imperative.
  2. Blow up your barriers. There has to be a shift of mindset and a shift of methods. What are you thinking now, and what are you going to do differently? The time to get ready for your next barrier is not when you get there, but the minute you blow through the last one. If you wait, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed and stuck.
  3. Pursue opportunities to learn. When you expand past your comfort zone, give yourself the opportunity to learn from those who are different than you. Part of what happens in ministry is that we tend to get isolated. We put on a face and “put on” wherever we have to go, and we don’t get a chance to seek help and evaluate our current status. “There have been times when I’ve gained more credibility on my misses than my success,” Brian says. When you look at what you represent, you want to build a leadership culture that will continue to evolve.

Quotes from this Episode

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Next Episode: John Burke

What can church leaders learn from the thousands of near death experiences people have reported?

Are they consistent with biblical depictions of heaven? John Burke shares years of research he’s done comparing NDE’s and scripture to bring us a vivid and fascinating account of what happens after people die.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 77.

CNLP 076: Raising the Dead: An Interview with Brian Wangler on How He Found New Life and Ushered in Growth in Four Stuck or Dying Churches


  1. Ben McDowell on February 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Is there a video somewhere with “Reggie Joiner’s Acts 2” discussion? Thanks!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 1, 2016 at 11:43 am

      There doesn’t appear to be any more. Sorry!

      • Ben McDowell on March 1, 2016 at 11:48 am

        No sweat, thank you for replying!

  2. donjonesmd on February 25, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Really enjoyed this podcast! Is there someplace where we can either get the notes or listen to Reggie Joiner’s presentation that was referenced here from Orange at Willow Creek? Thanks!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 1, 2016 at 11:43 am

      That was ten years ago and it’s all gone off line. Sorry!

  3. Jon Perrin on February 24, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    This podcast is outstanding! I appreciate the authenticity and insight Brian brings. Church revitalization is one of the biggest needs in the future of the American Church. Of course it’s easier to plant than to revitalize. But there is a huge need for people with a unique skill set and passion to invest in declining or plateaued churches. As Brian said, you need to look for life (life-giving people) there, and work with them to rebuild the church. Great job, Carey! Keep up the good work!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 24, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks Jon. Loved Brian and his story too. Soooooo encouraging.

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